This year for the Global Warning Program we collaborated with Tony Peralta, a contemporary artist and designer known for his pop art aesthetics inspired by his culture and New York influences. Read about his process and what inspires him.
What did greatness mean to you as a child?
I didn't necessarily know the concept of greatness growing up… I’m firstborn generation, so my mother and our family were navigating New York City for the first time. We were surviving! Mind you, I grew up in the 80s. Seeing Hip-Hop happening outside of my crib. In the 90’s I was a teen just entering high school.
During this time is when I first realized there was something inside of me - the first time I felt I had a higher purpose in life. I knew the streets were not it for me! This wasn’t told to me by my parents, but inside I knew that if I ever tried the street life I would be arrested cause I’d be going against what my purpose in life is, even though I didn’t know exactly what that was or looked like yet.
Greatness was shown to me through Hip-Hop culture. Being into graff and breakdancing, looking up to Crazy Legs from Rock Steady Crew and groups like Run DMC, these people were my heroes growing up. Hip-Hop culture at large was what defined greatness to me as a child.
What is the difference between “good” and “great”?
The energy. When I see something great there’s a spark. A surge of energy in me. When you see something great it’s inspiring. Good is alright, it gets the job done, but if you’re trying to leave a mark we all have to strive for greatness the highest possible level of achievement.
What are two ways you access inspiration?
One is through memories. A lot of things that I’ve done for uptown where I was born and raised are based on memory. I remember how this place used to be, my childhood was so much fun, our neighbors were our family. In my opinion, the internet has ruined a lot of that camaraderie.
Another source of inspiration is idle time. I need idle time to do nothing and to veg out in order to open up the portal of inspiration to choose me.
How do you know when inspiration is present in your work and when it is not?
I’m not inspired, I’m not doing anything. I’m very sensitive and refuse to force myself to do something I don’t want to do. If I’m working on a design and it’s not working to my liking, I’ll stop and revisit it later. There are some concepts that sit on my laptops for years but maybe it wasn’t the right time to drop or see it in its full fruition. I might wake up one day and go through some old files and get inspired all over again and make it even better. #GreatnessIsaProcess
Interviewed by Dashaun Justice. Learn more about The Peralta Project here